Chemistry (Science & Engineering Scholars)

General Information

CHEM 10171-05 meets MWF 9:25–10:15 in room 116 DeBartolo Hall
CHEM 13171-01 meets TTh 9:30–10:20 in room 209 DeBartolo Hall
CHEM 12171-39 meets Fridays 12:50–1:40 in room 209 DeBartolo Hall
CHEM 12171-40 meets Fridays 2:00–2:50 in room 209 DeBartolo Hall

CHEM 10171 also has laboratory and tutorial sections. Attendance at laboratories and tutorials is a required part of the class.
Attendance in the Problem Solving Skills Class is required for the Science & Engineering Scholars program.


J. Daniel Gezelter

Course Flow

The course has a rhythm for the week:

  • Mondays - Chemistry Lecture
  • Tuesdays - Guided problem-solving, worksheets due
    • Midterm Exams (September 11th, October 9th, November 20th)
    • exam wrap-up sessions (and donuts) on exam days
  • Wednesdays - Chemistry Lecture
  • Thursdays - Guided problem-solving, new worksheets handed out
    • Sapling Homework due at 8 a.m.
    • Practice exam prep on the Thursdays before exams
  • Fridays - Chemistry Lecture, Tutorials (afternoon)

Text and Online Homework

The textbook is strongly suggested but is not required. Sapling online homework is required and will be part of the course grade.

  • Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight, 7th Ed. 
by Peter Atkins, Loretta Jones, and Leroy Laverman, (W. H. Freeman, 2013, ISBN:  9781464145650). [6th edition is also OK]
  • Sapling Access code for one semester (for on-line homework)

These are available at the Hammes Bookstore as a bundle (text + homework access). Sapling access can also be purchased directly from Sapling (you and do this by logging in to Sapling through the Sakai course page) and your textbook can be purchased through third parties such as Amazon. Note that you will need to log in directly to Sapling via the Sakai course page to connect your Sapling account to your grade.

Course Overview

Cliché as it may sound, chemistry is everywhere: the food we eat, the medicines we take, the clothes we wear, the fuels we burn, and the objects we use every day. Chemistry influences politics and global trade. While you may not be a chemistry major (there is still time to change your mind!) having an understanding of the basic foundations of chemistry will serve you well in whatever future vocation you choose.

For this course, we will first work to develop an understanding of the physical principles that determine the properties of atoms. From there we will expand our understanding of atoms to their role in chemical bonding and molecular structure and properties. Following a discussion of molecular properties, we will cover chemical equilibrium and then applications of equilibrium by focusing on acid-base chemistry. In these areas you will learn both qualitative and quantitative routes to determine what chemical reactions occur and to what extent. Finally, we will tie together the microscopic properties of atoms and molecules with their macroscopic properties by discussing the laws of thermodynamics and how they govern chemical processes.

Midterm and Final Exams

All exams for this section will be held in room 127 in Hayes-Healy Center:

Exam 1 Tuesday, September 11th 8:00 - 9:15 a.m.
Exam 2 Tuesday, October 9th 8:00 - 9:15 a.m.
Exam 3 Tuesday, November 20th 8:00 - 9:15 a.m.
Final Exam Thursday, December 13th 1:45 - 3:45 p.m.

Exam 3 is scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving break. You will not be excused if you schedule travel (buy airline tickets, etc.) that prevents you from taking the exam. If you are participating in the Model UN in Chicago, you must plan to be back on campus by Tuesday morning to take the exam.

Absence Policy

You are in college now – miss classes at your own risk. If you wish to be successful in the course, then showing up, participating, and paying attention is a good place to start. If you must miss a class, see a classmate to obtain the lecture notes as they will not be provided by your professor.

Test dates are fixed. Make up exams are only available for students with University-approved excuses. You must notify your Professor in writing prior to missing an exam, even for University approved reasons. Emergencies, sudden illness, family emergencies, etc. need to be documented by the University’s Health Center, the Counseling Center, or the First Year Studies Office. The same absence policy applies for Friday tutorials.


As part of your homework grade, you will meet weekly with a small section of your peers to present tutorial problems. Tutorial worksheets are released Friday mornings on Sakai and are due the following week. It is expected that you will make a serious attempt at each tutorial problem before you arrive at your session. Your tutorial TA will select students at random to present solutions to the assigned questions at the board. You will receive full credit for an honest attempt (even if that attempt is incorrect). If you are not presenting a solution, it is beneficial to ask questions to help gain a deeper understanding of the material or to clarify any misunderstandings. Your TA will help facilitate class discussion and help fill in any gaps in understanding. See the absence policy above regarding missed tutorials.

Sapling Homework

Homework is assigned online almost weekly and can be found using the Sapling tab on the Sakai course page for CHEM 10171. Each week’s homework assignment will be posted on Friday morning and will be due the following Thursday at 8:00 am. It is your responsibility to start your homework in a timely manner – issues involving internet connection or network errors cannot be fixed at the last second. In addition, if you are stuck on a problem, please ask for help before you are out of attempts. If you have website or login problems, please contact the course coordinator (Prof. Young) as soon as possible.

Success in the Course

Attending lecture can only get you so far in understanding chemistry. The best way to learn chemistry is by doing chemistry. This means spending time working problems – tutorial problems, homework problems, book problems, etc. The more effort you put into understanding your homework and tutorial problems, the more likely you will be successful in the course. It is recommended that you not only work on these problems with your peers (seriously, please work together) but it is also imperative that you spend time working through problems on your own – after all, the exams are not a team effort.

Some recommendations for the course:

  • Read the assigned text sections before coming to class. Even if you don’t understand what you are reading, hopefully lecture will clarify the material.
  • After class, read the text again. This time through, hopefully the material is clicking together.
  • Work sample problems in the text; each section has step-by-step sample problems and then gives you a scenario to try on your own. This is a great way to help learn the process of solving chemical problems.
  • Find a small group of your peers to work with. Come prepared to these meetings so you know what questions you have/where you are stuck before you get there.
  • Come to office hours. There you can work with your peers, TAs, and Professors to help gain a better understanding of the material or clear up any questions you may have.
  • Lastly, don’t wait until the last minute!

Getting Help

We recommend that you start as close to the course as you can to seek help.

Quick questions can be answered by Professor Gezelter just before or after the class. Questions, comments, and suggestions may also be e-mailed directly to Professor Gezelter.

Professor Gezelter, Ms. Schalk, and Mr. Waitt all have scheduled afternoon office hours:

M 3:00–5:00, 362 Stepan Chemistry (Professor Gezelter)
M 5:00–6:30, 235 Nieuwland Science Hall (Mr. Waitt)
W 5:00–6:30, 235 Nieuwland Science Hall (Ms. Schalk)

You are encouraged to come to office hours, and no prior appointment is necessary. If you cannot come to office hours at these times, or need additional assistance, contact Prof. Gezelter by e-mail at

You are also welcome to attend Professor Young’s office hours:

W 2:00–4:00, TBA

General CHEM 10171 office hours will also be held in the evenings by other course Teaching Assistants each week:

W 7:00–9:00, Room TBA
Th 5:00–7:00, Room TBA
Th 7:00–9:00, Room TBA

One of the most effective ways of helping yourself in General Chemistry is to form a collaborative study group, to work together on homework and other issues in the class. Study groups work best when the group meets on a regular basis and everyone in the group is an active participant.
You will get the most from the homework and tutorial problems—that is, you will be best prepared for the exams—if you put in time and effort into them before going to office hours or gathering in a study group.


CHEM 10171:

Homework (Sapling + tutorial) 10 %
Laboratory 20 %
Miderm Exams (3) 45 %
Final Exam 25 %

CHEM 13171

Weekly Worksheets (11) 80 %
Attendance 10 %
Participation in Peer-instruction 10 %
Extra Credit 5 %

Your CHEM 10171 grade will be based on a single, numerical score computed by averaging your numerical scores on exams, homework, and laboratory weighted as given above. The cutoffs for grades are shown below.

D C- C C+ B- B B+ A- A
50-59 59-67 67-70 70-74 74-79 79-83 83-87 87-90 90-100

There may be an upward curve applied: If the median class score falls below 80%, an upward curve will be applied to bring the median up to 80%. The scores for students who drop the course will be included in the calculation of the median (note that this helps the grades of students who remain in the class). If there is a curve, it will be calculated and applied at the end of the semester.

There will never be a downward curve: A score of 90 will always be an A, an 87 will be at least an A–, an 83 at least a B+, and so on.

Cutoffs are strict: an 89.9994 is an A–

Be Considerate!

For lecture, you are welcome to take notes any way you please; paper, tablet, laptop, stone and chisel – as long as it isn’t disruptive to your classmates. Just be aware how your technology may be distracting to others around you.

There is now significant evidence that writing notes by hand aids in recall and performance in the class. Although we won’t prohibit laptops, their use is generally discouraged.

In addition, please don’t hold conversations, even if you are whispering, during class. There are many students in the lecture room and even a few conversations can quickly become distracting and make it difficult to hear. Questions during lecture are welcomed, just pop your hand up when you have one.

Lastly, when you become sick during the semester (it will happen) bring in some tissues or cough drops- your classmate in the row in front of you does not want to hear and feel you cough on the back of their neck all during lecture.

Basic Needs

If you or any student you know has difficulty accessing sufficient food to eat every day or who does not have a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect performance in the course, you are urged to contact the campus Care and Wellness consultants ( If you are comfortable doing so, please talk to your professor and we will work to provide any other resources we can.

Physical Health and Mental Health

Your physical and mental health are paramount to your success as a student. If you have any concerns with your physical or mental health, please utilize the campus services by contacting the University Health Services ( or the University Counseling Center ( If you are comfortable doing so, please notify your professor and we will work to provide any other resources we can.

Honor Code

Entering Notre Dame, you were required to study the online edition of the Academic Code of Honor, to pass a quiz on it, and to sign a pledge to abide by it. The full Code and a Student Guide to the Academic code of Honor are available at: The Code of Honor will be strictly applied as described in The Academic Code of Honor Handbook. Students will not give or receive aid on exams. This includes, but is not limited to, viewing the exams of others, sharing answers with others, and making unauthorized use of books or notes while taking the exam.

Accommodations and Disabilities

Per the Sara Bea Center on Campus

“To become eligible for accommodations, a student must register with the office by providing recent documentation of their disability. Registered students are responsible for requesting accommodations each semester.

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a course, program, or activity that enables a qualified student with a disability to obtain equal access. The accommodations provided are in response to a student’s perceived barrier to access. In other words, a student must, at a minimum, identify how their disability is preventing them from having access. Therefore, the services and accommodations provided are intended to reasonably remove a barrier.

The office does not provide treatment or teach students how to minimize the impact of their disability. Instead, reasonable modifications are made to a course, program, or facility to allow the same access as experienced by students without disabilities. An accommodation is considered reasonable only if it does not significantly alter the essential components of a course or program.”

Please inform your professor if you need accommodations and we will be happy to work with you.